NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As New Mexico continues to do it’s best to maneuver during the pandemic, the state’s top doctor has been helping guide reopening plans. Dr. David Scrase, Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, provided an update Friday.
It wasn’t the usual press briefing with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham at his side, but Dr. Scrase provided a deep-dive data update on where New Mexico stands with COVID-19, and where it looks like the state is headed.
“I think if you picked one thing that really has gotten us the success that we’re seeing in our state – it’s our attention to, and success with testing,” Dr. Scrase said, crediting the Department of Health Secretary and Governor Lujan Grisham. He said the state has made “amazing progress” with regard to ramping up testing.
Since he wasn’t limited to his usual ten slides during the governor’s press briefings, Dr. Scrase enthusiastically went through information on 40 different slides during his online presentation. He explained how New Mexico’s Medical Advisory Team, or the MAT, is tracking the state’s gating criteria.
Gating criteria is what states look at to assess when to relax or increase restrictions. Currently, Dr. Scrase said New Mexico is meeting 100% of the federal government’s testing criteria. New Mexico is currently one of only four green states on the COVID Exit Strategy’s U.S. map, indicating the state is trending in the right direction for reopening.
According to data, New Mexico has seen a 10-day streak of decreased cases, with no indication of a rebound anytime soon. Neighboring states like Texas and Arizona though, have seen an increase in cases.
Aside from testing and transmission rates, one thing the state is also keeping a close eye on is room in hospitals. “If our ICUs were full, and couldn’t expand any further, and we were in crisis standards of care, there’s absolutely no question we’d have to go rapidly backward through the steps,” explained Dr. Scrase.
Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel with the state’s Department of Health said they’re working on a plan for a testing strategy come fall when flu season starts.
Dr. Scrase warned the state could see a surge in cases in the winter. “What I’ve been telling schools is I think they need a very very robust plan for a surge in the winter, which is when all respiratory virus’ peak,” Dr. Scrase said.
Currently, Dr. Scrase said it’s taking contact tracers roughly 23 hours from the time the state receives a positive test result, to then contact and isolate that person.